Notes from a Linguistic Mystic

We have some submissions from my earlier thread which discussed the Verbing of website names. In that thread, I asked for examples of a person’s name going directly to a verb in English (like “To google”, but with a person’s name). Well, some astute readers have shed light on a few examples.

The first is “to Merkle”, provide by PsyMar:

I finally came up with one. It’s been out of fashion for a while, but “Merkled” was a verb for a while meaning either “to make a bone-headed mistake” or “to not arrive”, depending on who you ask, but it was named after New York Giants baseball player Fred Merkle.

The second, and one I’m now kicking myself for not remembering, is “To Bogart”, submitted by personshaped (whose name links to his rather cool language blog):

Here’s one that’s still in common use. “to Bogart” is a verb whose general sense is to hog, or take more than one’s fair share of something. It derives from actor Humphrey Bogart, though how its sense is related to the actor or popular perceptions of him, I’m not sure.

Now, I believe I do know the origins here, or at least a decent folk etymology. My impression is that this term originated in the Marijuana-smoking culture of the 60’s and 70’s, and then, referred to somebody who would, when smoking a joint (marijuana cigarette) in a group setting, smoke most of it on their own without passing. The term “to bogart” originated because Humphrey Bogart, in his films, is usually depicted either holding a cigarette or with it hanging in his mouth, but seldom smoking it. So, somebody always holding on to something, even when others are waiting, is bogarting, a perfect example of the sort of Name -> Verb transitions I had asked for.

So, thanks Personshaped and PsyMar! For anybody else out there who might have an example, send it in. Because, I mean, dude, don’t bogart the lexicon, man.


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